The Topography of Historical Contingency

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
Authors: Rob Inkpen1 and Derek Turner1
View More View Less
  • 1 a Department of Geography, University of Portsmouth b Department of Philosophy, Connecticut College
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



Starting with Ben-Menahem’s definition of historical contingency as sensitivity to variations in initial conditions, we suggest that historical events and processes can be thought of as forming a complex landscape of contingency and necessity. We suggest three different ways of extending and elaborating Ben-Menahem’s concepts: (1) By supplementing them with a notion of historical disturbance; (2) by pointing out that contingency and necessity are subject to scaling effects; (3) by showing how degrees of contingency/necessity can change over time. We also argue that further development of Sterelny’s notion of conditional inevitability leads to our conclusion that the topography of historical contingency is something that can change over time.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 491 124 13
Full Text Views 210 11 4
PDF Views & Downloads 60 19 9